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1996 › James Symons
18th Farfel Recipient

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Cullen Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering, Faculty Emeritus
Cullen College of Engineering

After receiving his degree in sanitary engineering from MIT, Professor James Symons participated in a pioneering study for the National Institutes of Health on the activated sludge process. This study laid the groundwork for the prevention of pollution in numerous waterways in the 1970s. Professor Symons taught at MIT for five years, then joined the federal government to lead many research efforts for providing safe drinking water for America.

Professor Symons joined the University of Houston in 1982 after a distinguished 20-year career with the federal government, during which he was given the Environmental Protection Agency’s Distinguished Career Award. He has been recognized frequently for his service at the university. In 1995, Professor Symons was named Cullen Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering and honored as the Abraham E. Dukler Outstanding Faculty Member. He earned an Outstanding Teacher Award from the Cullen College of Engineering in 1994 and 1996, and was given the Senior Faculty Research Award from the Cullen College of Engineering in 1994.

Professor Symons retired from the University of Houston in 1997. The previous year he received the Farfel Award. “In my career at the University of Houston, I always tried to balance my research, teaching, and service,” explains Professor Symons. “Receiving the Farfel Award was most gratifying, as it validated my approach to university life.”

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